Berry grower AJ & CI Snell's Anthony Snell said using tabletop growing had halved labour costs, but said: "Our biggest issue in horticulture as everyone knows is we need people to come and pick our crops."
Snell said he was "encouraged" by a meeting with Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom in November where she withdrew previous comments she made at this autumn's Conservative Party conference on "just getting Brits to do all the work" and said she was trying to get a type of worldwide Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme going. Snell said a scheme was an "economic no-brainer". But he said immigration minister Robert Goodwill had said in breaking news that the Government will only "reflect" on a new SAWS scheme.
He added that November 6's Kantar Worldpanel figures showed berry expenditure was £1.17bn, up 14.6 per cent this year. He said Berry Gardens was set to break the £300m turnover barrier this year too.
Martin Emmett, giving the James Bruce lecture, suggested horticulture could see itself as a "movement", rather than industry or profession.
Tomato grower APS Salads' Phil Pearson said using new technologies had transformed the industry in terms of sustainability and production.
Blue Diamond garden centres' Alan Roper said gardening has to underpin the business, which he said will turnover over £100m next year.
City of London Corporation greenspace director Sue Ireland spoke of the 4,300ha managed by the Corporation and its 23m visitors.
Horticulture Week technical editor Sally Drury was presented with the President's Award.
Owen Doyle succeeded Andrew Gill as CIOH president. Gill said becoming chartered in 2014 was "the best thing the IOH has done, ever". Doyle said his focus will be on horticulture and health.
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